Wednesday, January 18, 2012

We've been very busy trotting around Wales and the North of England seeing friends and family, and preparing for the next seven weeks in the Caribbean. But we eventually got out today to see a bird or two! This morning the year-list stood at 95 (which pleases us considering the amount of non-birding days we've had so far this year). We decided to go for a species we didn't manage to see last year - a Cattle Egret at Hempholme near Tophill Low Nature Reserve. We got there in good time, but rumours were that it could be anywhere! We set off to the canal, then back again, then back to the canal, across a VERY muddy field, through a farm, into a village. We decided to split up. Rich's parents went left, and we took a right. We stumbled across a fantastic field full of winter thrushes but couldn't find the egret. Then a flustered Izzy (Rich's mum) came running towards us waving furiously. We should have gone left.

The Cattle Egret at Hempholme was picked up by Rich's dad. Eventually there were about seven of us watching it. Plus a cat which was fortunately spotted by the egret. In only five months during 1997, the estimated British population of 9,000,000 pet cats was thought to have brought home roughly 92 million prey items including approximately 27 million birds. That's well over 50,000,000 birds a year. It seems a heavy price to pay for keeping an animal that only wants its dinner off you. In The USA cats kill hundreds of millions of birds! gives further details. (c) Richard Brown

So having started the day at 95 species for the year, we finished on 100. These two Smew at Watton Nature Reserve were alongside a Little Egret, and a Barn Owl was sat in the hedgerow behind the lakes. (c) Richard Brown


  1. Rich/Giselle, your link to cat predation should be required reading for the 'robin strokers' of a well known organisation (choose more than one!) for they certainly will be enthusiastic harbourers of this pest.
    Ian in Môn

  2. This article is also good for any cat owners who think that adding a bell will stop Mrs Tiddles from eating out at the bird table.

  3. Great pics Rich / Giselle! sorry I missed you at the reserve. Very envious - I go to Llyn every year and have been across to Bardsey - lovely place. I will link in your blog when I update the Tophill blog tonight - Hope you enjoyed the day...

  4. Thanks Richard, much appreciated. Tophill Low is a bit of a drive from Northallerton, where we spend some of the winter, but we're never disappointed and always manage to see some fantastic stuff there. It's a really great place and the new scrape looks like it might make it even better.